I attempted this post yesterday, and Typepad froze up on me; let's see what happens now, when I've got a little more time and energy, and not rushing out the door to a parish dinner!
It's nearly mid-December; not far from the solstice. But it sure doesn't feel a lot like Christmas to me. I've got flowers in my garden:
Forsythia, and the fuzzy cherry blossom below:
and look at the buds on my Lenten rose!
My veggie garden is just about done for the winter. I need to do some more work there, trimming off the asparagus, rhubarb, and raspberries and adding some nice compost mulch, as well as more mulch work on the paths. I'm hoping my parsley, rosemary, and thyme will make it through the winter -- it's an experiment. But this really isn't the time for all that garden work -- too busy. Still, I see why they call Tennessee the Volunteer State: look at the volunteers in my veggie garden:
My brussels sprouts this summer were a mess, getting the actual sprouts in the leaf joint, but nothing inside -- just outer leaves. But after I pulled the plants out, look what came up later! And then there's the lettuce. I don't have a lot of luck with lettuce from seed, for some reason -- maybe I bury it too deep, or not deep enough, or maybe the birds just like the seed. But look what I have in December:
and this, right in the path!
Sigh. Sometimes I think my garden does better when I just stay out of it! At any rate, you can see why I'm not feeling much like Christmas. And my real energy is channeled right now into my Haden studies. It's a good feeling; I'm loving the reading, anticipating the writing (3 short papers), and excited about graduating. It just doesn't leave a lot of enthusiasm for the holiday itself, but that's okay; my Christmas enthusiasm waxes and wanes from year to year, anyway.
I do have my little 4-foot tabletop tree up, though:
This tree is perfect for me, and is also pretty with just the lights and no ornaments. I wasn't sure I'd decorate it at all this year, but finally did put on only my very favorite ornaments, the ones that bring back lovely memories. There are two that my daughter specially decorated: one is the white cat that you can see on the right, just about in the middle of the tree. The other isn't really visible, as its hanger has broken off (note to self: sew on a new hanger!), and I've tucked it between the branches. It's an embroidered Christmas tree, with many stitches on it. Eleanor worked for weeks on it, and it's so precious to me. I'm also listening to Christmas carols as I write my morning pages, so I'm not entirely without Christmas spirit! But I don't think I'll probably assemble my huge, funny creche, made up with the figures of every living thing I have in the house, from Red Rose Tea figures to a plastic robin that plays "Rockin' Robin," to a snack wagon where the angels line up for a burger (I do have some pictures from last year, though -- maybe I'll post them this year). It's always fun and makes me laugh, but it's just too much work this year.
And then on Monday, I decided to bake some cookies for a cookie party I attend every year. Last year's effort was a disaster (never try a new recipe the day of the party!), and I went with none. This year I browsed the Betty Crocker Cooky Book that my mother gave me when I was a young mom myself, and I decided to make old-fashioned rolled, cookie-cutter cookies. I was immediately flooded with warm memories of childhood, sitting in the kitchen with Mommy while she mixed the dough, singing Christmas carols with her from a little carol book that I still have, and Daddy in the dining room in front of the fireplace, cracking black walnuts for the fudge. Then we'd get out the cookie cutters and go to town. Mommy wasn't much on icing them, though occasionally we'd use colored sugars and nonpariels, but I always got to choose the figures and cut them myself. Tuesday, as I selected the ones I would use this year, soaking and then gently brushing them sparkling clean after decades of non-use, I could feel my mother smiling over my shoulder, watching. The cookies themselves were no great shakes -- lemon sugar cookies with a good flavor, though. I rolled the dough 1/4" thick, as the recipe directed, but they rose up way too high, sometimes looking puffy and distorted. Surely 1/8" thick would have been better. Next time; live and learn. It wasn't really the rolling, cutting, and baking that was fun, anyway -- it was looking at those cooky cutters again, mixing up the dough and putting it in the fridge to chill, and feeling my heart so full of gratitude for the wonderful memories my parents made for me. That was the best Christmas gift of all!
So it's springtime outside (though we may get snow on Sunday), it's study-time inside, and Christmas still manages to sneak in around the edges. I'm a lucky woman.